Assistant DA Boyd Patterson heads Chattanooga's anti-gang effort for now

Assistant DA Boyd Patterson heads Chattanooga's anti-gang effort for now

November 16th, 2011 by Beth Burger in News

Assistant District Attorney Boyd Patterson speaks to a board of officials about what needs to be done to remedy Chattanooga's gang problem recently at the County Courthouse off Georgia Avenue.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

A committee made up of local public officials set up to combat gangs on Tuesday appointed Hamilton County Assistant District Attorney Boyd Patterson as an interim project coordinator.

Patterson will take leave from his job prosecuting gang members and will be tasked with coordinating efforts between government and local nonprofit organizations.

He will be filling the position until Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield hires a full-time coordinator. Littlefield said he is hopeful a coordinator will be hired by January.

Jay "Jammer" Scott, a former talk show host on WPLZ-FM 95.3, attended Tuesday's meeting and said he applied for the position.

"It is a tough challenge but I am passionate about giving back to the community, and believe my close ties to the school system and those on this joint board as well as friends in the area media and social media would make me a great fit," Scott wrote in an email.

The plan, which is a federal blueprint for communities, links social services and local governments together rather than relying solely on police officers to tackle the gang problem.

The plan requires a project director be hired to coordinate efforts and also that an organization conduct an assessment to learn where services are most needed.

Littlefield said the city also intends to lobby for tough anti-gang laws during the upcoming session of the Tennessee Legislature. He said he also plans to appoint a city attorney to work with the Chattanooga Police Department to see what its needs are in terms of changes to the law.

"We're putting it at top of our list and addressing this state law," Littlefield said after the meeting.

The state has had enhanced gang sentencing laws since 1997 that double sentences for gang members, but the law seldom is used. The sentencing law has yet to go to trial in a case because it is difficult to use, according to prosecutors.

Since the committee began meeting in early March, Chattanooga has had 19 homicides resulting from gun violence, two of which were domestic incidents, according to records.

To date, 15 of the city's 23 homicides this year are gang-related, meaning either victims or suspects were affiliated with a gang.